By Bree Jamieson-Holloway, Emma Pearce-Mogridge and Michelle Coates-Mather
We see you. Blurry eyed, exhausted, doing your best to survive the day. We know that, unless you have one of those unicorn babies that sleeps through the night and feeds on a consistently regular schedule (ha!), having a newborn isn’t easy.
When you feel like you haven’t slept in a week, the temptation to lay-up on the couch with your baby cuddled in your arms can feel like the only possible thing you can do to last the day. And some days, we believe that might just be the best thing you can do. Yes, we’ve all binge watched Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix with a newborn laying on our chests and we say… enjoy it! BUT it’s also important to nudge yourself off the couch even when you don’t want to.
Here are a few tips you might consider implementing to shift away from your newborn-fog mindset, increase your self-worth and provide you with a little peace of mind:
- Don’t be so hard on yourself! You’ve heard the saying it takes a village? That’s because it does take a village. In many cultures, when a newborn arrives the entire family is involved in the care of that baby day-in and day-out. Why? Because it’s bloody exhausting having a newborn and these cultures recognize the best way to thrive is to ensure mom and dad are getting rest in between diaper changes, feeds and baby’s cat-naps. It seems to be a less common approach in most western societies. Knowing this, it’s important that you not be so dang hard on yourself thinking you need to “do it all”. No, the laundry may not get washed today; no, there may be no three course, home-cooked meals prepared for your family next month; no, you may not get around to cleaning that ring around your toilet for a couple of weeks. But it’s OK. We know how hard it is to keep up with the ‘super-mom/dad’ mentality, but we believe the most important thing you can do is release unnecessary pressure off your shoulders.
- Rest even when you can’t sleep. We know the baby books all say “sleep when the baby sleeps”, but let’s be honest, that can be easier said than done for some moms and pops (especially if your newborn is your second, and you have a nap fighting 2-year-old in your house to deal with). Napping can also feel impossible when you’re thinking about how you should be napping but can’t because the baby could wake up at any minute, or because you haven’t showered, or because you haven’t eaten… If these nap fighting dilemmas seem familiar to you, know that rest comes in many forms. Even laying down in solitude for 20 minutes can do wonders. Try a 10-minute guided meditation or flip through your favourite magazine or colour! The key is to do something that helps you relax and calm your mind.
- Get your body moving. This can seem like such a challenge for new parents, especially moms in the first 6-weeks post-partum. Unless your doctor has strictly advised you against physical activity, consider implementing daily movement into your regime. But let’s not call it a ‘work-out’ just yet. Let’s ease back into it. Right now, your goal is simply to get your blood moving through your body. Go for a walk with baby in the stroller, try some relaxing yoga flows or sign-up for a mom/dad and me swim class. There are two important success factors here: go at your body’s own pace and choose an activity you enjoy, so you look forward to doing it consistently throughout your week.
- Embrace self-care baby. Whatever self-care looks like to you, make time for it! Mom-guilt might try to convince you that your self-care time is selfish, but we assure you, it is NOT. There is no rule that you must be by your newborn baby’s side 24/7. We believe it’s healthy for mom and dad to take mini-breaks from your precious little mini-you. Perhaps self-care to you looks like a couple’s massage in your home while baby is napping once a month, or treating yourself to a spa pedicure, or reading a novel on your porch by yourself for 25 minutes or reconnecting with your besties. It’s so important to find time to reconnect with yourself.
You still matter too.